Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) made the following statement regarding his bill SB 213, sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA), passing the State Senate on January 31st. SB 213 is now headed to the State Assembly.
SB 213 will modernize outdated California law by making it easier for registered nurses and other health care workers to access the workers’ compensation system, in line with protections male-dominated professions such as police officers and firefighters have already been granted in California.
“The core of this bill is simple. SB 213 recognizes and addresses a glaring inequity in California law. It corrects an historical wrong made during a very different time,” says Senator Cortese, chair of the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. “Equity is only possible when all frontline professionals, who face the same risk of illness and injury due to the nature of their work, are given the same guaranteed benefits.”
Nurses often have to jump through hoops — while sick or hurt — to receive paid time off for work-related illnesses or injuries. And after all that effort, nurses can be denied coverage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, workplace hazards that required at least one day off work totaled 220 for firefighters and 200 for police officers. The total for registered nurses was 78,740.
SB 213 recognizes and addresses this glaring inequity.
SB 213 will ensure that nurses and other healthcare workers will receive streamlined eligibility for workers’ compensation if they experience issues such as COVID-19 or other infectious disease, respiratory disease, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and musculoskeletal injuries, just like the law currently protects other frontline workers.
“I ask you to stand with me today for equity for all frontline workers and equity for women,” the Senator said during the Senate vote earlier today.
“How many more years must pass and how many more excuses may we make before we do what is right?” Senator Cortese added, “Authoring this bill has been a further eye-opening experience after my 12 years as a county supervisor, where I witnessed first-hand hospitals undercutting their workforce, putting profits over people and their workers. I made a promise to myself to do this kind of work upon arriving here, and this won’t be the last time that you hear me coming from a place of equity and fairness. The gap in access to workers’ compensation experienced by our nurses is a wrong that must be corrected.”